For brand new food bloggers, dealing with all of the technical aspects of setting up your website can be one of the greatest challenges. Who wants to mess around with a bunch of technical stuff when all you really want to do is blog about awesome recipes or slick new kitchen techniques? So, if you’re looking into starting a food blog, but you have no idea where to start, we’ve got a big guide for you to help you through the process. So, this is our guide to starting up a food blog using WordPress.
At the end of this guide, we will show you a few examples of really solid themes that would work great as a food blog. But, let’s deal with some other stuff first.
Some of you may be just starting out and some of you may be established food bloggers who are looking to up their game. Perhaps you are migrating from an existing platform like Medium? Oh yeah, you can check out our full guide on how to migrate your site from Medium to WordPress here.
So, when it comes time to finally get cracking and start that brand new food blog, or if you want to rebrand your old site, you have a couple of basic options.
- First, you can hire web designer. Of course, this is going to give you the absolute most flexibility for your website, you’ll be able to get the developer to add all the features that you want to your website and you can even choose a completely Custom Design. This is a great option if you have a lot of money, but custom websites can easily cost over $1,000. The going rate these days is actually probably closer to $2,000. For most of us, that just isn’t in the cards. Or…
- You can do it yourself using a self-hosted WordPress site and a great looking food blogging theme. Fortunately, this process is quite easy and it still offers you a lot of flexibility in terms of the design and features of your website. Hopefully by the time you finish this tutorial, you will have all of the skills and knowledge that you need to start a killer food blog.
So, I am going to skip over the first option because if that is your plan of attack, you’re probably going to need to find a different guide to walk you through. This is going to be all about using WordPress to start up a self-hosted food blog.
So, what are the steps to starting your own food blog?
There’s a lot to do, let’s get right to it. Here are the basic steps for setting up your food blog, giving you a beautiful and user-friendly platform for sharing recipes, stories about food and more. At the end of this process, you will have a website set up on your very own domain name and your site will have a distinctive look. Best of all, using WordPress allows you to grow your blog and scale up your business as you go. These are the basic steps to setting up your new blog, giving you all the tools you need to be successful.
- First of all, you are going to need to name your blog. You’re going to want us select something that is catchy and memorable, preferably using a.com TLD. This can cost you about $15 to register your domain and that is good for one year, after that, you’ll have to renew your domain registration. If you choose a host company like Bluehost, they actually offer a free domain with your hosting subscription. Bluehost also offers a free cPanel account, which can save you about $20 per month.
- Next, you need to find yourself a reliable webhost. There are a lot of different web hosting companies out there and the costs can vary widely. Currently, Bluehost offers hosting for about $3 per month, which is a very good bargain. I recommend Bluehost for beginner to intermediate level users. You should be able to get away with a shared account at first and if you’re traffic begins to really take off, you can always upgrade it later.
- Now that you have your domain name and your hosting company squared away, you are going to need to install WordPress. WordPress is completely free and I find it to be the best tool for building any type of blog website.
- Once you have WordPress installed, you are going to need a great-looking WordPress theme to make the most of your fresh blog. WordPress themes are pre-designed looks that have a variety of functionality but each one provides. A little bit later, I will highlight a handful of themes that I highly recommend. Some WordPress themes are free while others might cost you $60 or more. $60 seems to be just about the going rate these although themes that are built on the Genesis framework might cost a little bit more.
- Next, you are going to want to be able to track your traffic and begin the process of becoming a professional blogger. Google offers several different free tools that are going to really help. You should sign up for a Google analytics account, Google webmaster tools account and probably a feedburner account to help spread your message.
- Next up, installing all of the critical WordPress plugins that you are going to need. Depending on which theme you have selected, there may be several plugins already included. Food blog specific themes will often come with a recipe maker plugin, though there are quite a number of free options if the theme that you selected does not include that functionality. Recipe plugins give you quite a bit of flexibility in terms of how your recipes will look oh, I think that that is very important.
- Start Blogging! That’s the fun part, right?
So, I’m going to go a little bit further in-depth into all of these steps. Oh yeah, want to find out how much it’ll cost to start a new website? Check out our full post on the subject.
Step 1 – Selecting and Purchasing a Domain Name
First of all, you need to select a really a great domain name.
This is going to be the name that people refer to your website. Selecting something short and to-the-point, something catchy, something that really speaks to what your content is all about, those are some of the factors that you should look at when selecting a domain name. It should be something that you can really build a brand around.
I easily could have put this step 2, that’s because Bluehost offers a free domain name if you sign up for their hosting plan. I can save you $15 and at the beginning, every little bit counts, right? Who get to Bluehost a bit more during the selecting a web host service section. But in the meantime, start brainstorming about what you want your domain name to be.
After you have selected a few potential names, you will want to make sure that they are actually available. Bearing in mind that you want your website to be as memorable as possible and easy to spell, you should not resort to using hyphens or any other punctuation marks in your domain name. People won’t be able to remember that and that can result in a loss of traffic.
Speaking of Bluehost, they offer a handy tool so that you can check to see whether your desired domain name is actually available. Check it out below to see if your desired domain is still there!
Let’s move on to hosting for real.
Step 2 – Set up a Web Hosting account
We’ve touched on this a bit already, but I think it bears repeating. I recommend starting off with a simple, shared hosting plan. The hosting plan offered by Bluehost is one of the best, it starts at around $3 or $4 per month and offers one click WordPress installation. Bluehost is reliable, they’re up time is well over 99%, it’s fast, easy to set up and offers twenty-four-hour-a-day customer support. Honestly, this is just about as cheap as you can find hosting with these days.
Now, how you get the absolute most for the least amount of money? I believe that, particularly for beginning blogs, the basic plan is perfectly acceptable. It’s $2.95 per month if you purchase a year of Hosting up front. Don’t worry, if you’re blog takes off, you can always upgrade that to a better hosting plan that offers faster page load times and all-around more bells and whistles. But, for when you’re first getting started, the basic plan is plenty.
Bluehost will take care of all of the setup of your sea pal account and once it is ready, it will take a few hours to set up your hosting plan, you’ll be ready to go. There are certain add-ons that you can select. Of them, domain privacy is the only one that I would recommend. There is also the search engine JumpStart, which is certainly not worth the money. Sitelock security? Nah, you can find WordPress plugins that work even better.
So, now that you have your hosting squared away, let’s move on.
Step 3 – Install WordPress
Who better to show you how to install WordPress and Bluehost themselves.
Once you log into your cPanel account, you can find the website section and then select install WordPress. All you have to do is click the install button and choose which domain do you want to install to you. It’s incredibly simple and straightforward. Of course, if you choose, you can install WordPress the old-fashioned way, another good option if you want flexibility to make changes for any reason
Step 4 – Choose and Install a WordPress Theme
Okay, this is probably the most important part. Selecting the right WordPress theme.
There are thousands upon thousands of different teams out there, each one has a slightly different style add a different set of features. Selecting one that reflects your taste, one that you feel like you can grow is, that is the most important part. There is always going to be the ability to add features where they don’t exist, thanks to the power of WordPress plugins. But selecting a theme that looks great, that the first step to building a successful food blog.
So What Should you Look for in a WordPress Theme?
- First of all, you are going to absolutely need a responsive theme. Responsive designs are ones that are adapted to fit any size and shape of screen. This is a very important thing, so many people are accessing your website on their smartphone or tablet, slaving over a hot stove and looking for new great recipes. Giving folks access to those recipes on mobile devices delivers a better user experience than a static web page.
- All of the themes that we recommend are well-designed and aesthetically pleasing. But, everyone has different tastes. Basically, I don’t recommend using a free theme, they don’t often offer the sort of support that you might require. Also, there is no guarantee that these themes will be updated in the future, meaning the date could become obsolete. And believe me, it is no fun to have to change themes after you get started. It can really harm your SEO efforts and it’s, overall, just sort of the pain.
- SEO is incredibly important to building a successful website and having an SEO optimized theme is critical. Well-designed websites tend to rank a little bit better in the search engines, coding errors can slow your site down and that can really cost you traffic and money. So, you’ll certainly want to look for a theme that is well coded. We have reviewed tons of different themes and only the best are in any of our Recollections so if you see one on this website, you know that it has passed this test at least.
- You’re going to want a theme that is very user-friendly, one that has a lot of different design options that you can change up visually. Everything that we recommend on this entire website has an easy-to-use admin panel to make those types of customizations. It’s going to save you a lot of time and stress, you shouldn’t have to learn how to code just to set up an awesome food blog site. Similarly, you will want a well-supported theme. If you happen to run into technical issues or you want to make slight customizations to your site, you should have access to a professional developer to give you help when you need it. A lot of free themes that don’t offer this, another reason that I recommend a premium-quality theme.
So while you certainly can begin with a free theme, at least at first, I recommend starting with a premium theme. It could cost you anywhere between $50 and $150, but it’s money well spent. It’s going to save you a lot of time and effort down the road.
While I do recommend starting with the cheapest hosting that you can find, that can always be upgraded, changing themes really can be Troublesome in terms of SEO. If anything is misplaced, it can really put a dent in your traffic and that’s not something that you want to have to deal with.
Step 5 – Set Up Google Tools
Okay, now we have an excellent looking feature-packed WordPress theme installed. What’s up our Google accounts.
I am of the opinion that you should have a dedicated Gmail address for each website that you set up. That way, any information that Google needs to send you about any critical information will come to that Gmail account. It helps to keep your blog related emails and your personal accounts completely separated.
Once you have a Gmail account, I recommend that you install Google Analytics, that can help you Track blog traffic.
Installing Google search console can help make sure everything on your website is up and running. This is also known as Google webmaster tools.
Installing Feedburner is another good idea, it allows visitors to subscribe to your blog and keeps track of how many subscribers you have. Those are some of the basic tools that I would recommend any Blog owner have at their disposal.
Step 6 – Install Your Needed WordPress Plugins
If the WordPress theme that you have selected doesn’t include certain features, I think that it’s smart to add them yourself. Most of the themes that I would recommend, and that list follows this 7 step process, should have social sharing buttons, recipe plugins, related post features and some basic SEO plugins. I do recommend Yoast SEO and WP Fastest Cache, I personally use security for security and I have installed Jetpack on this particular site. Those are just a few plugins to help get you started, the needs of your site will be different than mine and so your list of critical features might be a bit different than mine as well.
Step 7 – Blog away!
Congratulations on your brand new food blog, now comes the fun part, blogging about whatever interests you and connecting with readers in a way that you never had it before. I think that you will find that WordPress is definitely among the best content management systems out there, you’re really going to love using it to blog about whatever strikes your fancy.
Whew, that was a big one. But we’re not quite done here.
Okay, I promised a few examples of templates that I think would work great as food blogs. So, here we go…
Here are a handful of examples of classic, well-designed and feature filled food blogs. If you want to see more, you can take a look at our full collection of food blog themes. There are quite a number of food blog templates out there so selecting the right one is really important. All of the themes in our collections are high-quality and well-designed, they offer purpose-built functions for food bloggers and the support is very helpful as well.
Foodie Pro is Genesis framework child theme and for those of you who are not familiar with Genesis, it is one of the absolute best platforms for blogging out there. It works hand-in-hand with WordPress to develop a great-looking website that really gets your message across. This is one of the most popular dedicated food blogging themes out there, it is simple to look at and easy enough to customize.
Healthy food is a 100-percent responsive food blog theme that integrates eCommerce to allow you to sell products. I think that could be great for those of you who are selling cookbooks or other food-related items, kitchen gadgets, knives, things like that. This is a feature-packed theme that has multiple layouts, works great in any language and it’s pretty cool early well suited for beginners.
Extra is a fantastic, clean and modern all around magazine theme. A lot of the same great features that make it perfect for magazines also make it great for food blogs. Your content will be well organized and that is going to really help people find what they are looking for on your website. Extra was created by Elegant Themes, one of the absolute best theme developers around. There support and documentation or really unrivaled and there are a lot of folks using these themes, that makes for a wide range of the information and pre-made templates out there.
Look is very attractive and quite popular theme, it was built as a lifestyle blog but it works great for food and recipes as well. That’s one of the things that I really like about this theme, it is completely flexible and dynamic, it can adapt itself to just about any type of website.
The Flavour is a modern restaurant and food blogging theme that is very customizable and easy-to-use. Just about everything can be changed up to suit your needs, fonts, colors, background images and more. The admin interface makes it very simple to make these adjustments and the resulting website is going to deliver an outstanding user experience.
While that’s not an exhaustive list, it’s a start. Here are some additional collections that might be interesting to you.
Alright, that’s all for now. Check back in later for more great WordPress knowledge!